The ins and outs of being a locum

The ins and outs of being a locum

Sadly, we all know that the NHS is suffering with cuts to funding and with that struggle, the number of GPs is declining yearly. All this has a negative impact on patient care. A study by the National Association of Sessional GPs earlier this year found that sessional GP work accounts for 40% of the UK’s GP workforce, with over 17,000 of these being locums. Why are so many GPs moving into locum work?

If you’ve been considering making such a move yourself, here is some more information of what being a locum is really like:

What is a GP locum?

Quite simply, a locum is a fully qualified GP who steps in and fulfils the duties of an absent GP in a variety setting, including surgeries and hospitals. A GP locum will travel to wherever there is a need as a result of understaffing, whereas a full time GP would be employed by one practice only.

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What can you earn?

As locums must available at short notice and might have to travel some distance, they are often paid a much higher hourly rate than a full-time salaried GP. For help finding work as a locum, take a look at GP Locum Jobs with

Is there more flexibility?

Being a locum provides considerably more flexibility. There is the opportunity to make higher earnings during the year, choose when to work, decide where to work and take on as many shifts as you want. You could work 5 days a week or choose part-time hours to fit around family or other commitments.

The cons

Whilst there are a multitude of benefits, as with any job, there are a few downsides as well to be considered.

There are no specified contracted hours, which offers little in terms of security as work is never guaranteed. However, GPs are in great demand, so it’s unlikely that work would run out.

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There is also the issue of not knowing any of your patients or their medical history. Whilst it can be frustrating to not have time to read notes and get to know patients, locums often come at problems with a fresh perspective, which can be essential for spotting an overlooked health concern.

With the travel to different practices, a locum must always be thinking on their feet, adapting to new environments and learning to deal with new systems and procedures. Whilst some people thrive in this diverse atmosphere, others might prefer more stability.


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